Summary: (Taken from GoodReads) The year is 2032, sixteen years after a deadly virus—and the vaccine intended to protect against it—wiped out most of the earth’s population. The night before eighteen-year-old Eve’s graduation from her all-girls school she discovers what really happens to new graduates, and the horrifying fate that awaits her.
Fleeing the only home she’s ever known, Eve sets off on a long, treacherous journey, searching for a place she can survive. Along the way she encounters Caleb, a rough, rebellious boy living in the wild. Separated from men her whole life, Eve has been taught to fear them, but Caleb slowly wins her trust…and her heart. He promises to protect her, but when soldiers begin hunting them, Eve must choose between true love and her life.
Thoughts: Being a sucker for dystopian novels, I had to give this one a try. I regret that I was actually pretty disappointed in it. The story had some potential, but there were far too many plot holes to make me comfortable with rating this book any higher than 2 out of 5.
The setting of the novel is a world in which 98% of the human population has been wiped out in a plague. America is now called the New America, is ruled by a King whose throne city is in the middle of a desert, and males and females are kept pretty much segregated. The man character, Eve, is in an all-female school, on the edge of graduation, after which she will cross the school’s lake into another building and spend four years learning her trade.
Or so she thinks, until one random girl whom nobody likes tells her that the real secret to that building is that girls are kept them and impregnated against their will. Despite having no reason to believe this, Eve decides to check it out anyway (swimming across a lake after admitting that she doesn’t know how to swim), and finds out that this is all true.
Waitasec, hold it. Completely ignoring the fact that she learns to swim after about 15 seconds in deep water, I want to take the chance to ask the following question: if girls are being prepped to basically be broodmares after they graduate from school, what the heck is the point? Why school them that long? Why waste time and resources and concoct an elaborate lie that makes them believe they’re going to have careers, and then just strap them to a bed and introduce them to a doctor with a turkey baster? It’s a waste of time and resources. If the real goal is to boost the population, then it would make better sense to make sure that the girls are fertile and then take them elsewhere as soon as possible, not continue to teach them how to dance and how to interpret 19th century novels.
I may also add that this all takes place about 10-15 years after the plague has ended. Too soon. 50 years, I can see. But in such a short time after the crisis is over, a lot of the changes don’t make much sense. Lawlessness running rampant because “people didn’t read the Constitution”? A politician setting himself up as King and nobody opposing him because they were all scared and sick? Complete segregation of the sexes, and the female teachers (who all were old enough to have survive the plague in adulthood, I might add) intentionally teaching girls that all males are heartless and cruel and will use girls and then spit them out? This book doesn’t take place hundreds of years in the future, when society can have radically changed in its views and perceptions. It takes place 20 years from now! Changes that massive don’t happen so quickly, and when they do, the resistance is more than scattered pockets of stubborn people.
So Eve leaves the school and decides to search for a rebel compound that she heard of, hoping that they’ll offer her protection and freedom from a life of birthin’ babies. On the way she runs into Arden, the girl who told her about the pregnancy program in the first place, and Caleb, a boy who escaped the all-male labour camps and is now living in an all-male society of hunter-gatherers. Naturally, Eve and Caleb fall in love.
Really, who didn’t see it coming a mile away?
Another gigantic plot hole occurred during an incident that proves beyond a doubt that the author doesn’t know much about biology and medicine. While investigating an abandoned house, Arden collapses and is coughing up blood all over her hands. My first thought is, “Ooh, is this a resurgence of the plague?” That would have been interesting. But no, it doesn’t seem so. Eve tells Caleb that Arden was outside in the pouring rain the previous night and that must be why she got sick. Three weeks of bedrest later, and she’s fine.
I’m sorry, but if there’s a condition that within 24 hours can chew up your lungs to the point where you cough and your palms are covered with blood, you’re not going to get better by just sleeping it off. You’re very likely to be dead in the next couple of days. Especially seeing as how the descriptions of the plague made it sound like a hemorrhagic fever, the author had a perfect chance to take the novel in a different direction and make it very hard-hitting, but she just let it go, and in so doing made a plot hole I could drop a piano through.
The novel ends with Eve and Caleb finding the rebel compound and Eve discovering that it’s a women-only deal, so Caleb can’t come with her. Having fallen in love, to the point of risking their lives on more than one occasion, she vows to find him again. And there the book ends, with the first part of the trilogy complete.
This feels, more than anything else, like an attempt to hop on the dystopia bandwagon before the journey is complete. The only way in which Eve stood out to me was in the mistakes it made. It could have been a novel by anyone, written at any time, with little in the way of a creative and original storyline. The author does have some talent, especially with introspective turns of phrase and artistic description, but the overall story was so lacking that it felt more like a “me too” than an “I have a great idea for a book.”
I can’t say I recommend this one. I know a lot of people who read my most recent “In My Mailbox” post seemed excited about it, but really, unless they want a bland and unoriginal romance in a post-apocalyptic world, they’re not likely to enjoy reading this novel.
(Received for review from the publisher via NetGalley.)